Day 2 EuroSTAR 2015 Review: A slightly different perspective

One of the aspects of EuroSTAR that I have always loved is the diversity of predominantly European cultures. It is the main reason why, back in 1999, I chose EuroSTAR over the US-based STAR conferences. This is important to me personally because I work in Australia where we have even greater cultural diversity because we have early European-settler undertones heavily inter-mingled with Asian-immigrant overtones.

The main take-outs, for me, from Day 2 of EuroSTAR 2015, provided a complete validation and verification of my choice. One of the key directions from the conference so far, for me, is to focus on the HUMAN IMPACT. However, there is not just one human model, there are millions. Just like there are millions of technology solutions.

At 3:00am this morning a lightbulb moment came to me when I sat bolt upright in bed and said to myself “this feels like what they were trying to convey in the Matrix movies”. If you take the millions of offerings from technology and matricize (I just made that word up!) them with humanity we come up with THE MATRIX. So, where is our Smith in this world? Well, of course he’s everywhere. He’s already in our wallets, in our shopping baskets, in our houses and in our cars and as our first Keynote speaker would have us believe, he is inside our bodies – under our skin. As was the case in the movie, our Smith is effectively omnipresent and coming at us from all angles and dimensions.

So, do we have effective (Testing-based) tools and solutions to combat this? I think we do. We have communities that are rather crudely referred to as “thinking testers”. We have people like James Thomas, who spoke on the premise that Your Testing is a Joke. We have James Lyndsay who just a few hours ago took out this year’s EuroSTAR Testing Excellence award. We have Michael Bolton and Kristoffer Nordström who both made reference to low-value Testing in their Lightning Talks. But most of all, we have our software testing community, of which EuroSTAR is one small sub-culture.

We are told that “Change is a constant” – does anyone else see that as an oxymoron? Well, based on what I’ve heard so far this week, “Change is currently a Train Wreck”. However, in my optimistic moments I believe that software testers can be at the forefront of preventing that Train Wreck. Unfortunately, in my more pessimistic musings, I see software testers failing to convince the broader business world (and governments) that our craft adds value.

Going back to something else that Kristoffer Nordström said in his Lightning Talk – “we allow the lowest bidder to win the majority of (outsourced) technology contracts”. To me, this means that we get lowest common-denominator testing from sub-standard software testers, existing on sub-human wages and working in conditions the western world wouldn’t allow their pets to endure.

So, here are my take-outs from today (and the broader conference so far): Get on your SoapBox and tell stories (some of which can be jokes, because not everything has to be presented as if Darth Vader was in the room). Tell stories that will inspire the influencers in your networks to prioritise solutions that will help us along the roads of constant change

Don’t get carried away with what we do today. Everything is (NOT) awesome – but it could be

Use the machines (I don’t consider them all to be robots) more effectively to do the grunt work (via Champions League Automation, if you like)

Contextually underpin our work with standards – maybe ISO 29119 isn’t the best set of standards that we could produce but they could be a start. After all, we are an engineering-based discipline and agreeing on good practices saves rework

Let us value behaviours (thank you Rob Lambert for your initial list during your Lightning Keynote). As a reminder they were – be visibly passionate; be aggressively open minded; draw a frame around yourself; get smart; know who is the customer; improve the process (from the customer perspective); do what you say you will do; communicate well; add skills; be brave (challenge stuff)

Recognise that we have Achilles Heels (thank you Jefferey Payne) and test the shit out of the stuff that really matters and release the other stuff as soon as it’s incubated

There you have it – my Day 2 “deep dive”.

So, how will I be rounding out my conference today? Firstly, I’ll be scheduling the rest of my one-on-one interviews – with Paul Gerrard, Julie Gardiner (@cheekytester), Zeger van Hese (@TestSideStory), and Richard Bradshaw (@friendlytester). I’ll be attending the final two keynotes and I’ll be squeezing both Iain McCowatt and Michael Bolton into the gap in between – no mean feat as they are both towering intellects.

I have to remember that there are several “extra sessions” this afternoon after Ruud’s Closing Remarks and therefore, time permitting (remember I have FOUR interviews to complete) I will drop in on some other stuff. For now (it’s currently 5am in Maastricht), I’ll rest my keyboard and get a few zzzzz’s before the sun comes up on another exciting day.

My sincere thanks go to the very kind and friendly people at the EuroSTAR TESTHuddle for permission to repost this Blog that first appeared on their website (albeit only 5 minutes ago)


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